Comic Book Biography: DAN PARENT

dan-parentDan Parent is an eighteen-year Archie Comics veteran. In addition to Archie Comics, Dan has worked on Felix the Cat and Barbie as well as self published a number of titles. Dan took some time to chat with us about his career.

First Comics News: You attended the Joe Kubert School, was Victor Gorelick on the board at the time?

Dan Parent: I don’t think Victor was on the board at the time, but he used to come down once a year and check out the talent.

1st: You joined Archie after almost immediately after graduation, how did you get the job?

Dan: When I got the job, one of the other artists left the art department to go freelance. The timing was just right, as it happened right after graduation. I worked in the art department for 9 years after that (also freelancing from home a couple days a week)

1st: You wear many hats at Archie, how is it determined if you are the writer, artist or both on a particular story?

Dan: Basically, I give Victor a bunch of story ideas, so I start off writing then go right to drawing. This also helps us incorporate the covers into the theme of the book. I will pencil other writer’s back-up stories sometimes.

1st: Is there more prestige working on the Archie title then the other characters?

Dan: Well, I work on Betty & Veronica mostly, and I think they’re equally as popular if not more than Archie. But Archie is the flagship title with almost 600 issues published, so that is pretty prestigious.

1st: You have been at Archie Comics for 18 years, what keeps the job exciting for you?

Dan: Well, I’ve been wanting to do this since I was five years old, so I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I love drawing (especially girls), so it’s perfect. And even though I could always draw them, I’ve really gotten into the whole writing process.

1st: Your covers for the Betty & Veronica Spectacular, even before the re-formatting are more three-dimensional then the rest of the Archie line, how is this look achieved?

Dan: Some covers I do myself in Photoshop, which may give a more detailed look. But I also think of myself as a designer, so I try to make the covers stand out from some of our other books. I think less is more, and I think the characters should pop out, and the backgrounds should be secondary.

1st: Part of you job includes doing many of the licensing illustrations for Archie, how were you selected and what does it involve?

Dan: When I started, we had a big licensing department, so I got into that right away. It was a great learning experience, since I learned all about designing and typesetting for package design, clothing and all things that weren’t comics. Every once in a while art will have to be created for licensees, but now we have a style guide, so licensees can actually have their art departments use our digital files. When I started, everything was just starting to switch over to computer-generated art. It makes things a lot easier!

1st: You also do toy design work, how did you get involved with the toy companies?

Dan: It all stems from the characters I work on. If it’s Barbie, she’s owned by Mattel, and if it’s a character like Felix, they have licensees all over the world. And depending on what they need, it just falls in my lap.

1st: You worked on the Barbie series at Marvel, how did you get the job?

Dan: One of the editors, Hildy Mesnick, saw my art and asked me to try a story. She liked it, so I worked on various Barbie comics for a few years, which also led to illustrating a couple storybooks.

1st: With Archie’s success with licensed titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sonic, why doesn’t Archie pursue the Barbielicense?

Dan: I’m not sure, but I would imagine it must be an expensive license. But we did work with Mattel/Barbie on the new Betty & Veronica, Barbie dolls, so who knows?

1st: You also do a lot of work on Felix the Cat, how did that come about?

Dan: I started work on some of their comics back in the early nineties, and that just led into doing lots of other licensing work for them.

1st: There aren’t many Felix comics, what do you do for them?

Dan: They only produce one comic, but I usually contribute a story for that. I also designed their website for them, and also work on designs for various products.

1st: You also worked on Tiger Comics’ Phantasy Against Hunger, what was that about and how did you get involved?

Dan: Wow, that’s going back awhile. I was attending the Kubert School at the time, and a fellow Kubie, Steve Lipsky, got the whole thing started.

1st: Getting away from the Archie work, what’s the deal with Agnes Moorehead? The whole biography is so over the top that I didn’t get the point

Dan: I find my own biography so boring, I figured why not make one up!

1st: How did you end up on Who Want’s to be a Millionaire?

Dan: I’m a big fan of game shows (and TV in general) so I went and took a test, passed it, and was interviewed on tape. Then I got a call that I was a contestant. I was also on The Weakest Link a couple years earlier.

1st: For all the readers that haven’t been on a TV game show, what’s the difference between sitting at home watching the show and being on the show?

Dan: It’s much harder when there’s an audience staring at you. Plus, you second-guess yourself much more when you’re on TV as not to look stupid! And that’s usually where you trip up!

1st: You have a verity of creator owned comics you have done, let’s get some background on them. What is Carney about?

Dan: The Carneys are a family of circus freaks who try to fit in to everyday society. I created this with my longtime friend and fellow Kubie, Bill Golliher. Bill’s also worked at Archie for along time.

1st: Carney was actually published by Archie, how did that come about?

Dan: Archie had run some Carneys’ stories as back-ups in other books. They liked the characters enough to give them a solo shot. Unfortunately, the sales weren’t there, but the book came out well.

1st: Dumb-Ass Express, appears to have Carney’s Linda-Louise on the cover, is this a spin off from Carney?

Dan: Well, since Bill and I retained ownership of The Carneys, we decided to do a new story for Dumb-Ass. And she was always the most popular character, so we put her on the cover.

1st: McMann & Tate Comics published Dumb-Ass Express, I assume this it the McMann & Tate of Bewitched fame?

Dan: Yes, that’s right.

1st: McMann & Tate also published Love-o-rama 2000, what made it the right time to do a 96 page black & white trade paperback?

Dan: That book was basically a compilation of other independent stuff that I’d been working on. Some of it was published in a digest size, which didn’t suit the art well. This format worked much better.

1st: You did two issues of Secret Fantasies for Bullseye comics; it sounds a little racy, what was this about?

Dan: These were basically a take-off on the old romance comics of yesteryear, with sort of a new twist. They were a little racy, but nothing you couldn’t read in a mad magazine.

1st: You are doing a web comic Tween Angel, is this something you are planning on printing down the line?

Dan: I’d like to print this at some point. It’s just another thing in my crowded head that I had to put on paper!

1st: What is the story of Tween Angel?

Dan: Basically, it’s about a young girl who meets her maker unexpectedly (sounds hilarious, huh?) And when she gets to heaven finds out that since it wasn’t really her time, she has to earn her wings to stay there. She has to perform 100 good deeds, but of course, “The Dark Side” has plans to prevent that from happening.

1st: Lastly, you are working on Mystery Girl, which seems to be less about producing a comic and more about a multimedia campaign. Are you going to publish a Mystery Girl comic?

Dan: I’d like to. My friend, John Williams, (another Kubie) wrote a great story.

1st: While you have a page of proposed products for Mystery Girl, have any of them been produced?

Dan: No, this is just sort of a presentation of how we feel the character would be accessible to licensing. We’re jumping the gun of course, but we had fun pretending!

1st: Is there anything we have not covered that you want the readers to know?

Dan: Come visit me in San Diego in July! And I love to hear from each and every one of you. Sometimes we artists are in our little cocoons and we don’t get exposure to all the readers, so it’s great to hear everybody’s thoughts and opinions!

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